For many years, the faculty brass ensemble at the University of Louisiana at Monroe was known as the Chamber Arts Brass. While this was a good name, the current members of the ensemble (me included) thought we should consider a name change. After much discussion, we arrived at Black Bayou Brass. Rather than bash the old name, I’ll explain why we like the new one, and some of our reasons for choosing it. First, the alliteration makes it catchy, and easy to remember (we hope!) Second, we really wanted a name that incorporated some kind of a local element – in other words, something from Northeast Louisiana. In thinking about this region and some of the features which make it unique, we all agreed that Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge was near the top of the list. It’s a beautiful place, and is located only a few minutes from campus (follow this Google image search for some additional photos). I’ve only been out there a few times, but as we finally get some cooler fall weather I plan to make more trips to the refuge.
Though something as simple as a name might not seem like much, consider how much money is spent in the advertising industry just coming up with the perfect name or slogan for a new product. Or better yet, talk to someone in advertising or public relations about name recognition and “branding.” For a chamber ensemble, I think the group’s name is very important, and should be something that everyone in the ensemble can feel good about. For better or worse, your group’s name is often the first thing a potential audience will hear, long before they hear you play or even see a picture. In short, it’s worth some serious thought!
Speaking of pictures, to go along with our new name we decided to get some professional pictures taken as well. While a snapshot will do in a pinch, it’s well worth the money to pay a professional to take several different kinds of photographs of your group. These can be used for websites, Facebook pages, and print brochures. One of our “casual” shots, for lack of a better word, is pictured at the beginning of this post, and a more formal one with white tie and tails is seen at left. Ensemble members are, from left to right, Alex Noppe, James Boldin, and Micah Everett. Brad Arender of Arender Photography Studio took these, and we think he did a fantastic job! We have a number of off-campus performances coming up this year – more on those in future posts – and we needed some promotional materials to send to our hosts. Along with the name, good photographs are another big component of marketing a chamber music group. While they certainly won’t cover up any musical shortcomings, these elements can really help get your foot in the door when it comes to booking performances. From there it’s up to the group to take care of putting together a fine musical performance.